A dragon seeks vengeance against King William, who slew his dragon-love, in the second installment of Heckel’s (A Fairy-tale Ending, 2015) outlandish fantasy series.
Volthraxus, the Dragon of the North, is devastated to learn his beloved Magdela, the victim of a fairy curse, is dead. The dragon-slayer was none other than William Pickett, a former peasant whose bravery ultimately led to his being crowned King of Royaume. As Volthraxus’ minion, Beo the wolf, acts as a scout, the dragon flies to Castle White to abduct Will’s fiancee, Lady Rapunzel, known as “Elle.” Will then enlists his friend Edward Charming as his squire in his quest to rescue her. Both men want to prove themselves: Edward, when he was prince, was prophesied to kill the dragon himself. Will’s older sister and Edward’s bride, Elizabeth, and Edward’s ex-squire, Tomas, follow, and all four must contend with wizard Dracomancer. The sorcerer may have the know-how to vanquish Volthraxus, but he also has an army of zealots and a plan to seize control of the kingdom. Will’s pitchfork, already bathed in dragon blood, is capable of piercing a dragon’s hide; sadly, he left it in the old Dragon Tower, where Volthraxus lies in wait with Elle. Heckel’s story is unmistakably satire, with generous allusions to tales such as “Little Red Riding Hood.” It’s laced with robust humor, including a blatant reference to the Duran Duran song “Hungry Like the Wolf”; the three bears of fairy-tale fame are both vicious and adorable here, believing irony (or “imony,” as they call it) to be something edible. Still, Heckel treats the genre with respect, building a solid foundation for the story. There’s heroism, romance, and a giant troll, in a self-aware narrative with a no-frills style: “If one happens to find oneself a king someday, it would be advisable not to model one’s rule after the kings of fairy tale.” Reading the previous book isn’t required, but references throughout (how did Will slay the first dragon?) should make readers want to.
A rollicking, genuine fairy tale, told with great appreciation for the genre and a sly sense of humor.